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Eddie Jackson Cracks List Of Top 10 NFL Safeties But Is He Too Low?

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Eddie Jackson Cracks List Of Top 10 NFL Safeties But Is He Too Low?
© Kena Krutsinger-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Jackson has his buzzword for the 2020 season. It’s “revenge.” Clearly the Pro Bowl Chicago Bears safety feels like he’s been disrespect over the past few months. A lot of people are proclaiming him good but not great or little more than a flash in the pan. The truth is experts are divided on him. Some believe he’s an absolute beast. Others think he’s a one-trick pony.

Tyrann Mathieu called him the best Cover 4 safety in the league. Meaning when it comes to playing deep coverage, there’s nobody better. That is hard to argue. Where it seems he fails to garner much respect is when he’s asked to handle more physical duties around the line of scrimmage. That stigma seems to have seeped into the ESPN rankings for the top 10 safeties in the NFL.

Jackson did earn a spot, but only at #8 overall. Names like Justin Simmons and Minkah Fitzpatrick beat him out for higher spots. The explanation for his lower positioning was right in line with those fears.

He wasn’t nearly as productive on the ball last year, with two interceptions and five pass breakups, but the Bears’ defense wasn’t as dominant as it had been a year earlier. The unit was transitioning from Vic Fangio to Chuck Pagano at defensive coordinator, and Jackson had to crash down more often to help with tackling.

But Jackson is considered scheme-transcendent — drop him in any defense and he’ll find the ball.

“He’s not the most physical guy, but his ball skills are so good that you’ll find a place for him in any defense,” a veteran NFL defensive coach said.

Eddie Jackson could have a career year in 2020

There were multiple factors that led to Jackson’s “down” year last season. He still played well, just not at the level most expected. A few reasons for this. One was already mentioned. The arrival of Chuck Pagano as the new defensive coordinator saw some scheme shifts. Nothing drastic but it was clear Jackson’s role change. Part of the reason why was the loss of Adrian Amos to free agency. Without him to handle duties down in the box, it forced Jackson to do that more often. Something Pagano admits was a mistake.

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It’s hoped the signing of Tashaun Gipson will alleviate that problem.

Then there was the pass rush. After 50 sacks in 2018, the Bears front four struggled to apply pressure consistently in 2019. Akiem Hicks missed most of the season with an elbow injury. Leonard Floyd was practically invisible. This left Khalil Mack pretty much on an island by himself where he saw constant double and triple teams. So the team decided to address that issue, signing veteran Robert Quinn in free agency. After 11.5 sacks last year, he is a massive upgrade to their edge rush.

Combined with Hicks’ return, this front could wreak havoc on quarterback. That will allow Jackson to feast in the secondary.

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